Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School days and school woes

    Nixon finished his first week of school last week. He had Monday off, for Labor Day, but went 4 days in a row after that. He's adjusting but it's difficult. We've had a couple phone calls from his teacher, he's tattled on himself for bad behavior and we've been working on his behavior at home.
   The problem is: how do you correct behaviors that you never see at home? That's our current situation. We're practicing things at home and working on developing a routine but it's only been a week, we can't work miracles.

    We've resorting to a system of stickers and a reward (aka bribe). He needed 8 yellow or green smiley face stickers to get his reward. He did get it, yesterday. He had 4(!!) green days in a row!

    After sitting down and talking to him, after one kind of awful day and one phone call to Mac, and really got to the deeper issue he's having. It's so awful I can't even share it with you!
    I'm kidding.
    The heart of the issue is he misses us. He wants to go home and see us. And, if you knew how his preschool used to react to his tantrums, his current behavior makes sense. His preschool would call us to come pick him up if he was acting especially awful, which he did (A LOT) after I started working full-time. Little did I know then that it was all a ploy to get more time with me. Which also explains why we NEVER see the behaviors he does at school, at home.
    After finding this out, and explaining that in Kindergarten he won't get sent home unless he's being suspended (oh yeah, that's already been mentioned to us....more than once, by the teacher and the administrators), I came up with a solution. We took 3 selfies, as a family, and Nixon got to pic 2 of them. I printed out the 2 pictures he chose, put them in his backpack and told him if he starts to miss us he can ask for the pictures at school. I also explained it to his teacher, who seemed shockingly impressed with my solution.

    As I said, he had 4 good days.
    Then came today and he had an awful day! He was disruptive (usually his starting point of missing us), he was removed to another room where he threw things at the teachers aid and then the vice principal. Then he spit at them! Fucking SPIT, y'all! I can not for the life of me stand spit! It's vile, gross and incredibly disrespectful.
    Finally, after a struggle to sit in a chair, he finally calmed down and hugged the teachers aid. He then went over to the vice principal, said he needed a hug because he missed his mommy and asked her for a hug.
   During the phone call, from the vice principal, I listened. I didn't say a word. Until she was done and she said something about Nixon missing me. Then I cut in and explained the photo-in-the-backpack plan. She had no idea what I was talking about and I was more than a little annoyed! There seems to be a communication breakdown and Nixon is getting the short end of the stick as a result.

     The vice principal also informed me the school's councilor is going to work with Nixon and get a behavior guide of some sore going. I'm a little pissed because I had asked for a conference during the first week of school and still no response. I hate to say it, but this school is not going to like me because I'm not going to let them run the show much longer. This momma bear is getting ready to growl!

   
     I'm other news: Nixon recently started complaining of leg pains. Yesterday, when he woke up (at nearly 7am on a school day!), he hugged me and I thought he felt taller. So I got the tape measure and he is now a smidge under 4 feet tall. At his doctor's appointment last month he was 46.5 inches!
   

Monday, September 15, 2014

The ugly truth, facing my past and telling Nixon the truth....it's one giant grey area

     This isn't exactly a normal Random blog. This one is a deeper topic brought on by recent events in the NFL world.
     Abuse. Domestic and child abuse. Sadly it has become a topic that Mac and I find ourselves struggling to address with Nixon.
   
     I asked Mac this morning, how and if we should talk to Nixon about child abuse. Nixon is in kindergarten now and that means he is around a variety of children from different backgrounds, we don't know any of his classmates families. Mac's answer was that we don't take the easy way out and we talk to him about this topic like we have with any topic honest on a level he will understand.
     But how honest is too honest. Do we tell him about our own childhood?. Do we not tell him, to protect his view of our parents? We often joke about our childhoods, but the truth is we suffered some serious shit at the hands of our parents. Were we growing up today, instead of in the 80's and 90's, there is a real chance at least one of us (Mac and myself) would have been removed from our family by the authorities.
     I don't shy away from my past and the shitty situations I have overcome. A physically abusive father, an emotionally distant (practically emotionally absent) mother, a physically abusive first boyfriend and my ex-fiance became emotionally and mentally abusive as our young love matured into an adult relationship. To say I was a broken and abused mess would be an understatement.
     I have long said, physical abuse is the least of my issues. Bruises, broken bones, welts and scratches all heal and while the memory of them remain, even scar, it is the mental and emotional abuse that haunts me to this day. I am not saying physical abuse is easy, I am saying the damage does not last as long, if you are lucky. I struggle daily with trust. The men I loved and the father I wanted to trust did a real number on me. I was beaten and told it was my own fault for making him do it. I was slapped and backhanded because another guy looked at me. I did nothing but look in the same direction. My ex backhanded me before I knew what was happening. I was 14 or 15 at the time. I was in a shitty family situation and an even shittier relationship.
     I was sexually active with boy, T. I remember thinking I might be pregnant. I told T and he slapped me,  called me a whore, and after I fell (tripped over something on the ground backing away from him) he kicked me in the abdomen and ribs multiple times. When I got home, late less than 5 minutes for my curfew, my dad beat me. I tried telling my mom about what T had done to me. She walked away and told me I probably had it coming, whatever it was. I do not know if I was pregnant or not. I am pretty sure I had internal bleeding but never went to a doctor.


      Mac tells stories of growing up in an Asian household and kneeling on rice as a punishment. He was sent to the backyard to choose his switch for a whooping.
     We grew up in a time when neighbors and family members were instructed that ass whoppings were allowed and these adults could do it if our parents were not around.


      I saw a shrink once. We barely scratched the surface of my issues, but after just 2 sessions he told me I am far more well-adjusted than most people with like pasts are. I'm pretty sure he was full of shit because well-adjusted is NOT a term I would use to describe myself.


      My ex, M. I spent 9 years of my life co-dependant on him. He was tragically damaged and I needed to be needed. After we moved in together and started growing into our adult selves, we weren't the same teenagers we were when we met. I had learned I didn't want to live with an addict again (Dad is an alcoholic) and he was hiding a gambling addiction....poorly. We fought often and epically. I threw dishes and he swore he'd change. He struck me. Once.
     I was stunned. We'd never been physically abusive to each other. I left for a few hours. I came back and he had notched up the emotional abuse, making me think I wanted him to hit me because it was the only kind of love I ever felt from my father. What an evil fucking dick he morphed into. I stayed because I believed what he said. I stayed because I was afraid to live on my own. I stayed because he helped me financially. I stayed because his words spoke the words I said to myself every day. I stayed when the cheating happened, but I never admitted to him I knew. I feigned ignorance and kept my focus on the degree I was going to school for. When the words coming from his mouth were bitter and ugly about the degree I was earning and the goals I wanted to achieve, I tuned out. It took 2 years of lies, his painful words, his emotional manipulations, to earn my degree. Less than a month later I left my hometown, my family, M and everything I knew. I fell back to him and his lies more than once those early months away from all I knew.
     And then, I just let it all go.


     He crossed a line and I was unforgiving. I went home when my dad was hospitalized after having suffered a stroke. I stopped to talk to a couple friends, M was there. While listening to me describe the insurance mess and my dad's weakened state, M says "Well, no offense, but it's not like he has that many brain cells left to damage after all his years of drinking."  No offense?? A stunned and awkward silence fell and I left.  I could say things like that, a few years later my dad and I will say almost those exact words to each other, but M.....M could not! It wasn't his dad, or even his family. That day I left and never looked back. I mourned the boy M was and the vile man he'd become.
    I found my backbone.


    Sadly, not every abuse victim does. Sadly they stay, for whatever the reason.
      I'm struggling how to tell Nixon about abuse. How to tell him about my own past and why sometimes I read a story or watch TV and feel tears welling up. How to tell him about the pictures of the marks on Adrian Peterson's child, put there at the hand of his father. How to tell him he might have a friend in his life who lives a life like that. How to tell him his parents know the pain that little boy, a year younger than Nixon, feels. How to tell him about the lies I heard about myself from the men I loved. How to tell him about the fear deep inside me, the fear that I'm my father's daughter and I will eventually do to Nixon what was done to me. I'm struggling with how to still be strong for my child and not pollute the love he has for his grandparents.
     I know I need to be honest with him. He's not old enough to hear tales from Mac and I's childhoods. But some day I'll have to tell him. Someday he'll see the damaged goods mom once was.
      For now, I guess telling about about abuse and the types of will be good enough.    I adore Nixon and I've made peace with my past. As difficult as it was, I'm not getting any younger and holding on to that kind of anger, bitterness and hatred was not good for me. I made peace with my parents and the role they played in my fucked-up life.     I'm very angry that people are judging Ray Rice's wife for marrying him and staying. Anyone who has never been in any kind of an abusive relationship can quite easily look at her and say she's dumb for staying. They say she should have left, if anything happens now, it's her fault for staying.     Sadly, she may think she will never do better. As awful as it is, she may feel that staying and dealing with things at home is better than leaving him and the life style he gives her.      It's hard to start over with almost nothing. I've done it. It's one helluva struggle. I had to dig deep and go through some shit, on my own, before I started to accept and believe I was a better person for those experiences. 


    This blog was supposed to be about my struggle to tell Nixon the truth about abuse, but it turns out I needed a little therapeutic outlet.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

There's a chance I'm doing severe mental damage to him with my sarcasm

     I've been working a lot lately. Partly because I like the overtime, partly because two of my four co-workers returned to college and now we're down to three people for 16 8-hour shifts a week. The math isn't pretty, but it's all kind of off the real issue at hand: My sarcasm is slowly breaking my son's heart!

    I don't know if my readers have noticed this, but I am quite a sarcastic person. Over the weekend, Nixon and Mac had an unfortunate incident in a parking lot during a walk to the store. I wasn't there, but as soon as I came home Nixon tattled on himself for "having a bad day". He tattles on himself a lot, I'm sure most of it is because he doesn't have any siblings and tattling is a deep-rooted, psychological need in all children, even only children.

    The story goes: Nixon and Mac were walking home from the store. It's about a half mile from our apartment so they make this walk a couple times a week when I'm at work. Mac was carrying the bags and Nixon darted into the parking lot without looking first! He wasn't hurt, thankfully no cars were in the area during this. Mac talked to Nixon about it when they got home and all was fine.
    Until I came home and Nixon tattled on himself.

   Our conversation went something like this:
me: You did what?!? Nixon, you can't do that. If someone would have hit you and you got hurt, I'd have to hunt them down and kill them. And I can't go to jail! I'm too pretty for jail, Nixon.
Nixon: *starts crying* I'm sorry, Mommy. Please don't go to jail.
me: (oh shit! I went too far this time....quick, fix it!) Oh honey, stop crying , I'm not really going to go to jail, but I'd be really sad if you got hurt.
Nixon: I know! I'm so sorry!
me: (why is he still crying, I just told him I was kidding!) *kiss his sweet face and wipe his tears* It's okay but you have to be more careful.

     He continues to cry for about 10 minutes. I finally end up going to Mac and admitting I "broke our child". Together the three of us, talk some more.
me: Nixon, Dad and I only have you to love. I mean, yeah we love each other, but it's a different kind of love than the love we give you.
Nixon: Uh huh.
me: If anything happened to you, where would all the love we give you go?
Nixon: Nowhere. It would go nowhere.
me: Exactly! So please don't make us send our love to nowhere. Be more careful, okay? Because, seriously, I can't go to jail. I'm not built for the hard life. And....I don't look good in orange! Have you ever seen me wear orange?
Nixon: No?
me: That's because I know I don't look good in it! And, if I were in jail we'd have to talk on the phone and have this super thick plastic wall between us.
Nixon: No hugs?
me: Nope, no hugs.
But, since you're going to be more careful in roads and parking lots it's not going to be an issue, right?
Nixon: Right!

    He's recovered, but this is only the latest example of my sarcasm sending Nixon into tears. You'd think I'd learn, but no, I keep doing it. It's okay though, because sometimes he responds back with his own sarcastic remark. He'll get there, I only hope he keeps it in check while in school.

Is it possible to be sarcastic without saying a word? His face makes me believe it is!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

He's 5 and he asked THE question!

    Mac, Nixon and I were in the car, after doing some back-to-school (though in Nixon's case it's more like first-to-school) shopping. I honestly have no idea what prompted him to ask this question, because he's shown zero interest in all things baby in the past, but suddenly from the backseat I hear "Mommy, how are babies made?"
    I turn to Mac and I'm pretty sure the look on my face was one of "Oh shit! You got this? No, fuck, guess I'm up!" not a word was spoken. Dead silence for a couple seconds, then I let the words flow.

   "Baby, it starts with a man and woman. They're naked and alone together. The man has sperm, and a woman has an egg inside her. The man leaves the sperm inside the woman and it joins with the egg, eventually growing into a baby. The baby stays in the woman's belly for 9 months! It takes a long time for the baby to grow. When the baby is ready, it's born, usually comes out of the mommy's vagina. Not always, sometimes the baby is removed in a surgery. You got all that?"
   Nixon says to me "So babies come out of the mommies vagina?" I say yes and Mac tells him "But you don't go around telling everyone you meet that. Not everyone is as open as we are."

   We go to Target and make a Starbucks stop. While I'm waiting for my drink to be re-made (I asked for no whipped cream and it was on there, it was remade), Nixon says to me "Mom, babies come out of the moms vagina, right?" I tell him he is correct, but most people don't like that word "vagina". I could see from the corner of my eye at least 3 people turn when he said that word.


   Look, I'm not going to use cutesy made-up words when the clinical word is a proper word. He asked a question and sure, I could have dodged it, but he deserves to know I'm going to answer his questions. I kept it simple but honest.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Laughing through his tears with me....or at me, it could go either way

   This all started because I went to the bathroom before tucking Nixon into bed. I noticed there was glittery green pieces of something in the trash can in his bathroom. I immediately know what it is and call for Nixon.

"Nixon Mathieu!" which has him scrambling out of his bed to see why I called him. I ask him what the mess is in his garbage can and he immediately says "I'm sorry.", without an explanation. I ask him for the skull that had previously been covered in the green glittery latex paint. He says he took it off because "I wanted to see the bones naked". It's a hard plastic skull, not real bones.

    The problem to all of this is: the skull is mine and NOT Nixon's. He destroyed it without asking first. As I'm explaining this to him, I fall back on my own natural ability to deadpan a sarcastic remark. While asking him how he'd feel if I ruin something of his, he says "sad". I ask him when he did it and it turns out he did it while he was supposed to be napping. (I thought maybe he'd done it when dropping a deuce, because...bored on the toilet). I tell him for a while his naps will be taken in my bedroom with the bedroom door opened (we close his door to keep the cats out of it). He starts crying, telling me "I don't want you to get rid of my bed!"
   He thought I was going to get rid of his bed! While he's still crying, I tell him he misunderstood me and that I would never get rid of hid bed....mostly because it's too big to throw out of his bedroom window! Well, to my little man this was hilarious! The thought of me tossing his bed out of the window had him from tears to laughter in a millisecond! I'm not totally sure he even comprehended that he was laughing as tears were still running down his face.
   We go back to the importance of respecting each other's belongings and Mac mentions "taking the stuffing out of BeBe". Cue the tears again. Before he gets too upset, I stop the tears and probably caused him more emotional upheaval than he knew what to do with. I reassure him that "I would throw your bed out of the window before I'd ever remove BeBe's stuffing." I may have also mentioned flushing Scoot-a-loo down the toilet, but that also caused tears, so I quickly retracted that statement!

   I'm not sure I should be allowed to parent him anymore. I think we're entering the lifelong-emotional-trauma age. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Proof my kid really loves me!

     Not often, but occasionally, like most moms I find myself wondering if Nixon is growing up so fast that he's going to stop needing or loving me overnight. Last night, Nixon calmed those nagging fears with a simple conversation.

    A little background before story time though. Last night, after I got home from work, we all headed to the grocery store for a short trip.  Nixon was told to leave his iTouch in the car, and he started pouting and fake crying. He was warned to stop and got out of the car. He was still a little pouty so I offered him a "job". I gave him my car keys to put in his pocket. He was super excited to do it and we entered the store with one happy child!
   After around 10-15 minutes of shopping, I did a key check. I asked him to shake his pocket. He did...nothing. I dropped down and shook his pockets myself....they were both empty! I was about to lose my mind and Nixon says "Look mom, their in a quiet place!" He put them in the cup holder that's a part of the cart. Mac and I both look at each other and say "I just had a heart attack!"

   During dinner, Nixon and I talk about it:
me: Nixon I think I lost 5 years off my life tonight.
Nixon: What's that mean?
me: It means I'm going to die 5 years sooner that I was before we went shopping.
Nixon: NO! You can't die! Mommy, I need you!
me: Oh baby, I'm not really going to die. It's something adults say to be dramatic.
Nixon: I'm just a little boy still and I need my mom!
me: *hugging him* I'm sorry. I didn't mean I'm really going to die. You're going to have me around for a long time still!
Nixon: Good, I like that!

   See? Totally loves me!

I may not do everything right most of the time, but loving this boy and getting his love back....that comes naturally. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

It's been a long time....so much has changed!

   Nixon graduated Pre-K. It was an adorable ceremony, during which Nixon proved he really does dance to the beat of a different drum. It's okay, he does an awesome robot dance! He also blew me kisses from his little area on stage and walked down the aisle waving to people on both sides, even though he had no idea who these people were. I did cry, and we had a lovely day. Mac was on terminal leave from the Navy, so he was there too!

  In other news, Mac retirement ceremony was last week. It was beautiful! I'm not sure I've totally accepted that he's going to be out of the Navy for real yet. But I'm loving having him home all the time. And he and Nixon's relationship is awesome together. We're all learning to deal with the sudden changes in our family dynamic. I'm now working 5 days a week and Mac is home with Nixon. 

   I'm sure there's more going on, but this is the short and sweet version!